by AFN Clarke
When someone asks “what do you do?” and I say “I’m an author”, invariably the response is “wow, it must be great to just sit and write all day”. And of course I nod, but I secretly think “if only you really knew!”
Am I happy to be a writer? Of course I am. Am I bursting with creative energy that’s ready to flow onto the page effortlessly giving life to what is sure be the next best seller every day? In my dreams! So I got to thinking, what are the 10 things that I didn’t know about becoming a published author that I’ve learned the hard way?
1. Published authors have the privilege of developing really thick skulls.
Who else would work long hours with little sleep, no money, get rejected a million times and drag loved ones through hell and back to just hear that one precious word “yes”. Our bubble of denial and refusal to see reason actually cultivates miracles – how cool is that?
2. When people like what you write, they’ll only sometimes tell you so.
We are insecure, sensitive creatures who though we staunchly deny it, measure our own self-worth through someone else’s eyes. Positive feedback is like life support – so if you like my work put me out of my misery and tell me, so I don’t end up a blabbering mess of insecurity.
3. When people don’t like what you write, there’s no stopping them telling you so.
My big “aha” is that the moment a writer commits words to paper he/she becomes public property – a target to be criticized, loved, praised, or condemned a hundred times over. Live with it! I wrote my thriller An Unquiet American with a very politically provocative premise that dramatically escalates tension in the book - and also some people’s blood pressure! So be it, at least it’s generating heated discussions for them as much with those who love it – isn’t that the point? It’s all a matter of attitude.
4. Fame and success erase your battle scars but also common sense.
My first book CONTACT was a best seller. I was on TV, in the newspaper, and felt invincible. When the limelight faded my publisher asked “where’s your next book?” “What book?” Oops, wrong answer! That rookie mistake took years to correct – so while the fans are still cheering take a bow, stick your ego in a box and quietly get back to work.
5. You will take your partner to the brink of madness.
After all these years, my wife deserves a medal. As with most authors I can be a self-indulgent hermit who’s rarely truly “present”. When writing I live in a parallel universe that only intersects hers at mealtimes at best. When I’m not writing I’m grumpy, as I’m upset I’m not writing. So authors – if anyone puts up with you, cherish adore and love them, because they’re a rare species.
6. Those pesky 140 characters will take you to the brink of madness.
Here’s the deal Twitter – my latest thriller The Orange Moon Affair has 479,180 characters and you want me to do what? Be meaningful in 140? You’ve got to be kidding right?
And of course I’m running out of characters already – so here are learnings 7, 8, 9, and 10:
7. You’ll become best friends with loads of people that you never even get to meet.
8. You’ll learn to see the silly side of everything life throws at you.
9. You’ll get to face your greatest fears, reveal the inner depths of your soul, open your heart and mind, become totally vulnerable, learn about things you never heard of and chase your wildest dreams.
10. And if you learn to get over yourself, you’ll live through it all to celebrate the most wonderfully satisfying and richly rewarding times of your life.
Being an author rocks!
AFN CLARKE is the son of a British MI6 operative, pilot, sailor, screenwriter, father of four who’s lived all over the world, served in the British Army and recovered from the physical/emotional traumas of war. His bestselling memoir CONTACT was serialized in a British newspaper and made into an award winning BBCTV film. He’s insatiably curious, loves heated discussions and has a rascally sense of humor. He now writes fiction of various genres – thrillers (The Orange Moon Affair and An Unquiet American); human drama (Dry Tortugas), humor/satire (Dreams from the Death Age; Armageddon), horror (Collisions) with more coming soon. For more information visit http://www.afnclarke.com, connect on Facebook or Twitter (@AFN Clarke).
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Genre – Thriller
Rating – PG-13